Hasn’t it? … back in 2007, rosé was not such a hot button topic. Its growth over the past eleven years is astounding. Nielsen reports that sales of still rosé have risen 65% since last year. Sparkling rosé sales jumped by 16%.
The funny thing is, we can assume that prior to direct pressing, most all wines looked like a rosé. It was the notoriously sophisticated Romans who brought winemaking to a place where color gradations could be created. If not for their ingenuity, perhaps we’d have been drinking rosé all along.
Regardless, rosé has most always existed in its own class. Clairet from Bordeaux is an example of rosé wine that dates back centuries. While it was always possible to find quality rosé wine from Europe, most early-to-mid twentieth century Americans considered the wines too simple. It was down-market juice for the unserious drinker.
The grapes weren’t grown with rosé wine in mind. It’s just run-off juice used to enhance the color of a red wine (as in the saignée, or bleeding method.) It’s just a red wine and a white wine mixed together. (These days, with the exception of rosé Champagne, mixing is not permitted in the European Union. It is permitted in the New World.)
So how exactly did we become a nation of rosé-philes?
The rise of rosé indicates that the wine cellar guard has changed. A new generation of wine drinkers is democratizing consumption in heretofore unseen ways. That’s great news for everyone here – yes, more people are drinking wine. Many wine writers have worked tirelessly to make wine more accessible and inclusive. And to me, the rise of rosé is proof of their success. The wine industry is booming because there’s more for everybody to enjoy, no matter your taste or price point.
But now that everyone has jumped on the rosé bandwagon, where are we headed? Many of the great brands have made their first rosés in just the past few years, and most do not disappoint. The majority of them are intentional – the grapes are grown with rosé wine in mind. But while imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, we should remain vigilant as we wade through the great twenty-first century rosé glut.
I always taste rosé at room temperature to start. While this is a fairly common wine adjudication practice, I find it particularly important when it comes to rosé. If it doesn’t taste okay to you when it’s slightly warm, there’s probably a better bottle out there.